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Evaluation of Scottish Road Safety Campaign Travel Packs - Research Findings

DescriptionResearch was commissioned to establish the extent of use of the travel pack among the target audience of children aged 8-10.
ISBN0 7480 9363 X
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateMay 03, 2000
Development Department Research Programme Research Findings No. 82Evaluation of Scottish Road Safety Campaign Travel Packs

George Street Research

The Scottish Road Safety Campaign (SRSC) is active in promoting road safety education. One of its resources is the children's 'travel pack' introduced in 1995 and revised in 1999. The pack consists of 2 booklets - The Highway Code for Young Road Users and the Journey Activity Book - and an audiotape, competition postcard and pen. Research was commissioned to establish the extent of use of the travel pack among the target audience of children aged 8-10; to gather their views and those of their parents on the contents of the pack; and to measure the potential benefits of the travel pack as a road safety education resource.

Main Findings

  • The majority of children liked the travel pack . Overall recall of the items in the travel pack was high, as was the reported use of each of the items. There was particularly high recall of the audiotape and the Journey Activity Book amongst the younger children. The older children tended to remember the Highway Code for Young Road Users and the competition card slightly more.
  • The audiotape was the item favoured by most of the children, especially amongst the younger children.
  • Indications from the children were that use of the items was short-lived. Parents implied that this was not so and that the audiotape in particular has some longevity.
  • Some of the children and their parents agreed that certain items were incorrectly targeted. For example, a few mentioned that some of the puzzles were too difficult for the younger children. Similar comments were made about the text in the Highway Code for Young Road Users, which was more appropriate for an older age range.
  • The travel pack prompted recall of road safety messages and there was support for the reinforcement of road safety education through this approach.
  • Parents regarded the travel pack as a valuable resource, approaching road safety education from a different angle. Both parents and children agreed that they liked the balance of items in the travel pack as it encouraged the child to have fun and learn at the same time.
  • Overall, the response to the travel pack was positive and recipients recognised the value of the SRSC in providing such a resource to promote and educate children about road safety.

Introduction

The Scottish Road Safety Campaign (SRSC) receives funding from the Scottish Executive to provide road safety education to children in Scotland. The SRSC's promotion of road safety education in the school curriculum is supported by a wide range of other resources disseminated in other, less formal settings. One such resource is the 'travel pack' which was introduced for children in 1995 and revised in 1999.

The travel pack is aimed at the 8-10 year old child and consists of 2 booklets - The Highway Code for Young Road Users and the Journey Activity Book - an audiotape, a competition postcard and a pen. The pack is particularly designed to be used whilst the child is travelling in the car, with various activities to complete which reinforce the road safety message. The pack is generally distributed by Road Safety Officers throughout Scotland at specified events such as road shows, and to various youth groups. During July and August 1999 the pack was distributed to some 37,000 school children in Scotland.

It was decided to conduct an evaluation of the travel pack amongst children and parents to establish the extent and nature of its use among the target group; to obtain feedback on the contents of the pack; and to assess the potential benefits of the travel pack as a road safety educational resource.

Methodology

The survey was conducted between June and September 1999. To ensure that the packs were distributed in a systematic way, it was arranged that they would be given out to children in schools in a selected area. Children in Primaries 4-6 attending schools in the Bonnyrigg, Loanhead and Penicuik areas of Midlothian, received the travel packs prior to the summer holidays.

The research consisted of a benchmark survey in which interviews were conducted with 300 school children in the local area prior to the issue of the travel packs - this was to establish the extent of the children's knowledge of road safety matters. At the main stage of the survey, once the travel packs had been issued, 300 other school children and a parent or guardian were interviewed - the aim of this was to monitor how effective the pack had been in providing further information about road safety. Focus groups were also conducted with a selection of children and parents who had participated in the main stage of the research, who were given the opportunity to discuss road safety issues and the travel pack in more detail.

Research Findings

Responsibility for Road Safety Education

Spontaneously the key providers of road safety education were identified by the children as being either a teacher at school, or a visit by a Road Safety Officer or the police to school. When the children were prompted, there was widespread recognition of the role of parents too. In comparison, the parents claimed to be mainly responsible for educating their child about road safety, although they acknowledged that teachers had a role.

Parents considered that their children are more likely to take notice of an authoritative figure giving them road safety education than when they recount the same information at home.

Knowledge of Road Safety

The majority of the children were aware of the importance of using the Green X Code when crossing the road. However, the parents expressed a concern that their children do not always use their knowledge. After the children had received the travel pack, there were fewer mentions of the Green X Code generically but more mentions were made of specific elements of the Green X Code (See Table 1). This suggests that the travel pack may have heightened specific knowledge about some elements, or refreshed the detail in the minds of the children.

Table 1

Knowledge of Road Safety

Base: children

Pre Stage

Post Stage

(300)
%

(299)
%

Always use the Green Cross Code

78

72

Always use traffic lights/zebra crossing

30

35

Look left and right

26

30

Do not cross between parked cars

12

9

Use the school crossing patrol

7

15

Always hold parents hand

4

3

Do not stand in the road

4

2

If there is an island cross there

2

6

Wear bright clothes

2

0

Understanding of Road Safety

When the children were presented with a range of road safety scenarios and were asked what they would do in each instance they showed considerable evidence of knowing how best to proceed. The scenarios and results showed awareness of; the use of traffic lights/zebra crossings, the importance of wearing bright, fluorescent or reflective clothing at night, awareness of the importance of wearing a cycle helmet, bright clothes or armbands and having lights or reflectors on their bike, and wearing their seat belt when in a car. Significantly more children who had received the travel packs mentioned the importance of bright clothing when out in the dark (71% compared to 60% who had not seen the pack) and the importance of wearing a cycle helmet (86% compared to 61%).

Recall of the Travel Pack

Recall of the contents of the pack was high with a majority of the children aware of all 5 items. The younger children were slightly more likely to recall the audiotape, the Journey Activity Book and the pen. The older children were more likely to recall the Highway Code for Young Road Users and the competition postcard.

The Travel Pack Contents

The majority liked the Journey Activity book with its puzzles and quizzes, although some of the younger children found them slightly too difficult.

The children liked the idea of doing puzzles, but there was a general feeling that they were not wide ranging enough, and were not of interest to everyone. The younger children enjoyed being able to colour items in, and would have preferred more opportunity to do this activity.

The audiotape was described as fun with the children reporting that they liked the music and songs. Its appeal, however, was slightly stronger amongst the younger children. The audiotape/music tape was the item favoured mostly by the children, followed by the Journey Activity Book. The competition card had the lowest use overall albeit that, when used, it appeared to have the widest reach across other household members.

There was resistance to some of the more serious elements of the travel pack, with the children concluding that some of the articles either contained too much text or they were not interesting enough. The Highway Code for Young Road Users was considered to be too difficult by the children and more so for the younger children.

The parents' main criticisms of the travel pack were that the language and the features in all the elements in the pack were not simple enough for all the children. This applied particularly to the Highway Code for Young Road Users which was seen as too difficult for some of the younger children receiving the pack.

Overall, whilst those taking part in the research did have some comments to make about how the pack could have been improved, it was generally seen as a worthwhile initiative. The children appeared to have been quite excited about receiving it and opened it at the first opportunity, although their attention focused on a limited number of items in the pack.

Parents were appreciative of the gift, and the pack was seen as a useful way of revisiting the road safety issue and repeating important messages.

Table 2

Contents of the Travel Pack that stood out as good/bad

Base: Parents

Good
(73)

%

Bad
(12)
%

The Audiotape/Music Tape

52

17

The Highway Code for Young Road Users

12

33

The Journey Activity Book

12

0

The Competition Postcard

7

0

Pen

3

0

Puzzles

8

0

Games

1

0

Well explained messages

7

0

Not child oriented/difficult for them to understand on their own

0

25

Timing and Distribution of the Travel Pack

The audiotape, the Journey Activity Book and The Highway Code for Young Road Users were still being used by some of the children after 6 weeks.

The majority of parents reported that their children used the pack at home rather than in the car.

Overall Comments on the Travel Pack

Most of the children claimed to find the travel pack fun and interesting. However, it is also true that most of them felt that the travel pack did not teach them anything new about road safety.

Most of the parents claimed that the pack and its contents were relevant to their child's age. The majority of parents agreed that the pack was a good way of making road safety interesting, and that it was a good idea to have something like the pack over the holidays. On a more general point, the distribution of this type of pack in the autumn may have offered an opportunity to stress the 'be safe be seen' message at a more appropriate time of year. It would also link in with a time when children would be making longer trips away from home to school, than occurs over the summer months.

Suggested Improvements

Suggestions from a minority included: reflectors/strips for arms and bike, more guidance for parents, and distribution in term time/later in the year. Many of the changes suggested by the children were minor. Specific to the pack the children had a comprehensive list of items they would like, including colouring pencils, stickers, reflectors, erasers, more puzzles, competitions, crosswords, mazes, dot to dot puzzles, colouring or word searches.

Other suggested areas for improvement were predominantly technical, such as the view that the information in the pack is too advanced, it should use simpler language and the items should be more modern.

Summary

The cost of producing the travel packs in 1999 was £35,000, which is clearly a significant expenditure. However, the research indicates that the packs were well used (with up-take and recall higher than has been seen for simple leaflet methods of promoting road safety, for example). At an overall level the usage levels reported for the travel packs were quite high and approach typical penetration levels that might be expected for awareness of TV or cinema advertising.

The main role of the travel pack has, however, been as a 'reminder' rather than disseminating new information. This is not a criticism as clearly such a role was both appreciated and valued. The amount of information conveyed depends upon the extent to which various elements of the pack were used and this was clearly variable. Whilst at an overall level use of the individual elements was high, the group discussions revealed that examination and attention to some of the items in detail (such as the Highway Code and Activity Book) was partial.

The issue to consider in determining the overall effectiveness of the travel pack must be whether the distribution method was effective in reaching the targeted age groups.

Schools were used as the distribution point for the travel pack purely for the purposes of the research. However, there was some support for the school as the main channel of distribution, although parents thought it would have been better if they had been informed of the distribution beforehand. However, both children and adults' responses indicate that this method of delivery was useful.

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